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Teammates react to Diggins’ and Randall’s historic gold

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In case you missed it in the very early hours on Wednesday, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall made history for the United States as they became the first to win an Olympic gold medal – and a medal of any color – in women’s cross-country. This was also the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the United States for a man or woman, and the first medal in the sport for the USA in 42 years.

Randall and Diggins were in the leading pack the entire race when, in the final corner of the last leg, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson attempted to break away from Diggins and Norway’s Maiken Falla. Diggins, the only athlete of the three to not have won an Olympic medal in the women’s individual sprint, out-chased both of her more decorated adversaries to win the women’s relay by half a ski length.

If you’ve watched cross-country during this fortnight, you would realize that perhaps no other competitors are as sunny as Diggins and Randall. Just a couple days ago Diggins took to Instagram with a quote ending in the words “Enjoy it.” No one seemed to enjoy the relay half as much as the face-painted American pair, and it was that enthusiasm that they used to carry themselves over the finish line.

News of Diggins’ and Randall’s historic achievement quickly spread, and cross-country teammate Sadie Bjornsen was one of the first to congratulate the duo.

Fellow cross-country teammate Sophie Caldwell also couldn’t contain her excitement for Diggins and Randall.

Lindsey Vonn, who made her own history on Wednesday evening by becoming the oldest woman to win the downhill, also congratulated the skiers.

Vonn wasn’t the only Olympic medalist to offer her congratulations, though. 2006 gold medalist and former alpine skier Julia Mancuso, as well as 2018 bronze medalist Maia Shibutani also joined in.

Click here to watch Diggins’ and Randall’s historic feat

Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova¬†hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since¬†Kristi Yamaguchi¬†in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was¬†Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old¬†Alexandra Trusova¬†won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion¬†Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

WORLDS: TV Schedule | Pairs Preview | Nagasu’s Outlook

Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None¬†finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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